World Cancer Day is 4TH February every year and the theme for the 2020 World Cancer Day is “I am and I will ”. The aim of this year’s theme is to increase the personal commitment of individuals to reduce the impact of cancer. World Cancer Day was initiated by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and their overall objectives are to sensitize people about the risk factors of cancer with the aim to reduce it and promote preventive actions. They also promote the concept of early diagnosis because it reduces the mortality rate from cancer. It has been noted that most often, individuals get diagnosed at late stages and this results in a lower survival rate and high cost of treatment. It is important to have health checkups regularly and overall, it is important to have an early cancer diagnosis. According to the World Health Organization, the following three steps are important to early diagnosis of cancer:
- Improve public awareness of different cancer symptoms and encourage people to seek care when these arise;
- Invest in strengthening and equipping health services and training health workers so they can conduct accurate and timely diagnostics;
- Ensure people living with cancer can access safe and effective treatment, including pain relief, without incurring prohibitive personal or financial hardship.
In line with the concept of organizing community engagement on cancer, Women Impacting Nigeria (WIN) has previously organized a Jog for Life program on Breast Cancer Awareness on November 18, 2018. This program was organized in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN). The foo.cal point of the Jog for Life is the concept of Early Detection. According to WIN, “there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured early if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available…” This submission is in line with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations on early detection methods.
There are different forms of cancer, however, in relation to women; the most common forms are breast cancer and cervical cancer. It is said to have taken up about 25.4% of the total number of cancer cases in a year. According to some health reports, cancer mostly develops in older people. However, it is also reported that adults between ages 25-49 and 55 years and above have a higher risk of cancer. It is important to note that the survival rate of victims of cancer has increased. This is a result of advanced technologies used in treating cancer and early cancer diagnosis and also as a result of the sensitization of individuals, especially on preventive measures and lifestyles.
Steps to avoid Cancer
- Avoid smoking and the use of tobacco
- Avoid the sun or use sunscreen often.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Incorporate leafy greens and eat less processed foods.
- Be physically fit and avoid obesity.
- Avoid unsafe sexual behaviours.
- Ensure you get the necessary immunizations. (against HPV- Human Papillomavirus and Hepatitis)
For the specific types of cancer which occur among women namely breast cancer and cervical cancer, the American Cancer Society proposes the following preventive methods according to age range. For breast cancer in women, it is recommended to:
Age 40-44: Get a mammogram done yearly. This is a form of breast cancer screening done with an x-ray.
Age 45-54: Yearly mammogram
55 and older: Mammogram every two years
For cervical cancer, the risk of getting this is a result of wrong sexual behaviours especially with individuals who have the virus. To avoid this, it is proposed that women should:
- Avoid multiple sexual partners and premarital sex
- Avoid smoking
- Get HPV vaccines routinely
- Avoid being overweight
- Take pap smears
- Avoid certain hormone treatments.
- Use condoms
It is hoped that this article has been able to enlighten you on cancer in relation to preventive measures and early diagnosis. In line with this, there is a cervical cancer screening in Lagos state which would hold for the whole of February and would be beneficial to women across all ages. Register for the EKO Hospital Care Programme (CSR) which includes a free Cervical Cancer Screening. Screening duration; 1st to 29th of February, 2020.
By Adesewa Alabi